It Is Written

THREE beautiful texts have direct application to this lesson concerning the long-promised Messiah. The first is found in Isaiah 53:11: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” The second text is Psalm 40:6,7: “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering thou hast not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the Book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” And the third, and last text we will consider here is Romans 15:4: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” There may seem to be little relationship between these three texts, but before the conclusion of this study the close connection will develop.

The writings of the entire Bible focus upon the life and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus. This is particularly evident in the New Testament; but it is also true of the Old Testament. The types and shadows recorded there, the promises and prophecies of his coming, his life and death, all in great detail, center upon Jesus and his work. And although the Bible—and indeed, the entire plan of God set forth therein—focuses upon Jesus and his coming to earth to lay down his life as a ransom sacrifice, there is surprisingly little written concerning the early life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is because the emphasis is upon the “man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5,6), his works, and his words.

But there is, of course, that wonderful account in Luke, which never fails upon repeated reading, to thrill us. It takes our minds to the time when the angel announced to the shepherds on the dark Judean hillside the birth of Jesus, saying, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) And how it lifts our hearts each time we read the words of the song the host of angels sang about that unprecedented event, “praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”—vss. 13,14

The Scriptures then, after telling of Jesus’ birth as a baby, skip over to the year when the Wise Men appeared in Jerusalem. Apparently they were following a star which would show where the babe had been born. Their intent in finding him was to bring gold and silver, and treasures—frankincense and myrrh—and to worship the little child who was destined to become earth’s great king. However, the wicked ruler, Herod, learned of their visit, and became troubled over the announcement that there had been born in the city of David one who would be a king, thus threatening his own position, and line of rulership over the province. And so he sought out the Wise Men, and said, “Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.” (Matt. 2:1-12) But secretly he plotted to kill him.

We see how even this early in Jesus’ life the hand of the Almighty Father evidenced itself in connection with his appearance upon the earth. From the very beginning, Jehovah knew every moment exactly what was happening in the life of his Son. The Lord warned the Wise Men of the East not to go back to Herod to tell him where the little Savior was dwelling, as the king had requested them to do. So after they had found and worshiped the babe, they obediently followed God’s command, and returned directly to their own lands in the East.

It became necessary, then, for Joseph, by the instruction of God, to take Mary and her little child and flee to Egypt for Herod had his soldiers searching every home, to slay Jesus if he could find him. Because he could not identify Jesus, Herod, in great rage, ordered the slaying of all children in Bethlehem from two years old and under. But Joseph, Mary and the young child, Jesus, had safely escaped this terrible holocaust. While they were in Egypt, Herod died, and Joseph and Mary and Jesus, could finally return to the land of Israel.—Matt. 2:13-15

Again the hand of the Lord came into the matter, as God directed Joseph that it would not be wise to return to the province where Herod had ruled. Although Herod was dead, his son was now reigning in his place. The scripture states that Joseph, having been warned of God in a dream, decided to travel to Judah, in the land of Galilee, and to take up residence in the village of Nazareth. (vs. 22) This was not by chance any more than the fact that he had gone down to Egypt was by chance! Joseph took his family to Egypt in order that the prophecies might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” (vs. 15; Num. 24:8; Hos. 11:1) Now their move to Nazareth, Joseph’s choice of turning toward Judah, was not by chance either! It was also to fulfill prophecy: “My Son shall be called a Nazarene.” (vs. 23; Judges 13:5) Every step of the way, the hand of the Almighty was over Jesus and his doings—protecting, leading, and overruling.

Now we come to another, larger gap of perhaps ten years in the life of Jesus. What occurred during that time? In the next account he is a lad twelve years of age. We are told that it was the custom of the Hebrews to go each year to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. This, Joseph and Mary and Jesus did, along with a company of others—friends and relatives. Having celebrated the Passover, this same group of pilgrims made its way back home again. After a whole day’s journey, his parents looked for Jesus, but Jesus was not among the company. Quickly they returned to Jerusalem; but only after three days of searching did they find their boy! He was in the Temple questioning and discoursing with the Doctors of the Law.—Luke 2:41-49

This gives us a hint as to what his main concern had been between the time that he was a young child, and when he was twelve years old. No doubt he had learned the Word of God at the feet of his mother and in the synagogue (Luke 2:40,52), for he desired to search out what had been written concerning himself. The Heavenly Father chose as Jesus’ mother one who was intelligent, kind, and pious: one who would bring up her child, Jesus, with a knowledge of and love for the Scriptures: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”—vs. 52

Now we come to an even larger missing interval in the record of the life of Jesus. We do not hear any more of him until he presented himself to John for baptism at Jordan—a space of some eighteen years. Again, we are certain that he was continuing to fill his mind at the instance of devoted members of his family, and possibly the priesthood, with the Scriptures—absorbing them with that perfect mind which we cannot begin to comprehend—storing up the knowledge of the Lord’s Word, for, as our text observes, it was “by his knowledge … [that] my righteous servant [shall] justify many.”—Isa. 53:11

His understanding of the Scriptures was comprehensive. We discover this as we follow the story of his life. There was never a situation where he could not quote the scripture applicable to the case, and to handle the Scriptures well. Jehovah supervised the education of his Son, making certain that whatever was necessary for him to know would be made plain to him. However, even so, Jesus did not have a complete understanding of the length and breadths, heights and depths of God’s plan and his involvement in it until he came up out of the water after having been baptized by John. At that time the Holy Spirit descended upon him as a dove, opening the heavens to him.—Matt. 3:13-17

When the scripture speaks of the “heavens” being “opened” to Jesus, we understand this to mean that his perfect mind—which had been filled with information from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament, all the prophecies relating to him, the types and the shadows—began to comprehend fully what this involved and the entire picture began to perfectly fit together. (Matt. 4:1) He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days his newly spirit-begotten mind could meditate upon the Scriptures, and they were opened up to him as they never had been before. For forty days his spirit-begotten mind wrestled with the implications of the tremendously responsible position in which he found himself.

The success of the entire plan of God depended upon him and on his faithfulness in obediently carrying out God’s will for him. This became clear to his perfect mind—the illimitable, astounding reaches of which imperfect men cannot begin to appreciate or to understand! There, guided by the Holy Spirit, he reexamined and sorted out, fitting into place, the many Scriptures in the Old Testament which referred to his earthly mission.

And, the ‘primary thought indelibly impressed upon his mind, was the fact of his identification as the Messiah. The Heavenly Father made it unmistakably certain that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. No doubt many of the passages which revealed that fact had come to his mind before he received the Holy Spirit. But now, his spirit-begotten mind was completely reassured by his Father that he was indeed that Messiah. These Scriptures referred to him!

Undoubtedly that wonderful passage in Proverbs 8:22-30 went through his mind. Imagine the comfort and joy he would get from considering it: “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” And as he would read on, he would realize that he was that one who had been associated with the Heavenly Father in the creation of the world—the creation of everything that was made! “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the water should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundation of the earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.”

Can we put ourselves in Jesus’ place, and feel what he felt when his spirit-begotten mind recalled this wonderful passage of Scripture? How he would rejoice to realize that he had been with the Father, and that he had been daily his delight. And how joyous it was for him to realize that the Heavenly Father had caused these words to be recorded and to come to his mind just at this moment, in this very hard period of his life’s experience, for his encouragement and strength. It assured him that he had indeed been with the Father in heaven, and had voluntarily taken on human form to become the world’s ransomer and its Messiah. These comforting thoughts came at the time he was so sorely tempted of the Devil to do things the Adversary’s way, and not the Heavenly Father’s way. The words he had uttered at his baptism rang out clearly now, “Lo I come … I delight to do thy will, O my God!”—Ps. 40:7; Heb. 10:7

Then, perhaps, that newly spirit-begotten mind would go back to another statement of God’s holy promises, to Isaiah 9:6,7: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” As he considered this passage, it would be clear to him that he was this Son, this was his kingdom spoken of, that he would be the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace, to the whole world of mankind.

Then perhaps he recalled God’s dealings with Abraham, and some facets of the Abrahamic Covenant. He may have thought of the wonderful promise to Abraham, that in his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed. (Gen. 22:18) The Apostle Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to tell us that Jesus, primarily, was that ‘seed’; and secondarily, the church was also part of the ‘seed’. (Gal. 3:16-29) The Lord saw fit to reveal this mystery to the Apostle Paul; and we know the Heavenly Father revealed it to his Son, Jesus, who was himself the fulfiller of that great prophecy. The Father revealed this mystery to Jesus for his comfort, encouragement, and for his guidance.—Eph. 5:32

Jesus was indeed the long-promised seed who would ultimately bless all the suffering, dying, hungry, unhappy people of the world, among whom he had spent the past thirty years of his life. The lame, the blind, the deaf, the lepers—the young and the old, the rich and the poor—he would bless them all! As the Scriptures opened to him in crystal clarity the many facets of his Messiahship, along with the awful responsibility resting upon his shoulders there was also the happiness, the joy and gratitude that flooded his heart! He would be the one responsible for wiping out hunger and death, sickness, wars and poverty, and to fill the earth with peace, joy and happiness, life and righteousness!

There in the wilderness, as he underwent the temptations of the Adversary, there must have passed before his mind a series of pictures: the offering of Isaac—a loving father offering his son as a sacrifice; the Passover lamb—that lamb without blemish that was slain for the deliverance of Israel; the bullock whose life was given up on the sacrificial altar as an offering for sin. And the impact upon his mind—recognizing all these types and shadows as picturing himself—under the influence of the Holy Spirit, fortified his identification as the Messiah. This fact was solidly established in his own heart. So thoroughly was it planted there that later he could say confidently, “Moses wrote of me.” So completely was he convinced, that when he stood before Pilate he could counter the ruler’s insolent question, “Art thou then a king?” with the quiet but firm answer, “Thou sayest.” He knew he was a king. There was no need to argue the matter with this unbelieving man.

Coupled with this would come the remembrance of many passages concerning the suffering, the ignominy, the humiliation, that lay before him. And the intensity of that impending suffering would slowly be born in upon him as he recalled the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isa. 50:6) He knew that these words had been spoken concerning himself. This was a desperate situation in which he would sometime find himself. None realized better than Jesus the depth of sorrow, shame, humiliation, and weariness into which he was entering. It was all spelled out for him, written in the volume of the Book.

But lest he would be overwhelmed with it all, the Holy Spirit directed his minds to words of comfort, help, and encouragement. He may have turned to that beautiful passage of comfort in the 34th Psalm: “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. Taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. … The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. … Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.”—vss. 7,8,15,17-20

How hungrily, how earnestly, his mind would lay hold on these blessed words of encouragement! The Lord would never leave him nor forsake him! And how many times during his three and one-half years of ministry these words brought strength to our Savior. Jesus sought no additional honors for the great work he was so shortly to accomplish. He asked only for the joy and glory of being with the Father as he had been before the world was. (John 17:5) But the many promises of the work he would accomplish through the high position to which he would be raised, must have been an additional impetus to him. The realization of the heavy responsibility resting upon him was also offset by the joy of the Father’s trust in him that he would accomplish these things well, and would bring to fruition the blessing of all the families of the earth!

He emerged from those forty days and nights in the wilderness resolved beyond any shadow of turning to pursue the course his Father had invited him to take. Although he clearly understood the pain he would endure—his perfect mind could project itself and feel the agony of the nails in his hands and feet, suffering that cruel death upon the cross—but nevertheless he overcame. There in the wilderness he fought out the battle, and he won. From that moment on, he never deviated from the difficult, strait Bath of sacrifice, no matter where it led.

How carefully, how lovingly, how tenderly the Heavenly Father prepared the way for his Son. Even with his perfect mind and body, it is doubtful if Jesus could have endured the three and one-half years of suffering and ignominy, and finally the cross, except for the Scriptures written concerning him. They were convincing evidence that each one of the painful experiences was indeed overruled and supervised by his Father, and considered needful to his development as a sympathetic High Priest to mankind during the Millennial Age.

Well, this might be the end of the matter, but it is not the whole story. There are others about whom the Scriptures speak in similarly loving language. There are others whose characteristics are foreknown of God and described in the Bible. Their love for righteousness, truth, and justice, induces them to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Jesus. Their trials and sufferings, their faith and final reward, are just the same as those given to Jesus. What a wonderful honor, what a glorious privilege, what amazing grace! And that honor, brethren, is ours! For faithful Christians are spoken of by the Heavenly Father with joy and pride, great affection and tender solicitation! They were chosen in him before the foundation of the world! (Eph. 1:4) Think of that! They are also elect according to the foreknowledge of God. (I Pet. 1:2) They are predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son. (Rom. 8:29) Their very names are written in heaven!—Luke 10:20

Christians are pictured in many terms in the Scriptures: as kings and priests of the Most High God; as the bride, the Lamb’s wife; and together with the Lord, as the ‘seed’ of Abraham who shall bless all the families of the earth! These things are all written in the volume of the Book! How great should be our amazement and joy at this recognition of the honor of the high calling; and how great should be our humility! We fervently sing, “Amazing grace, what joy to know, the merit of his blood!”

But, as with our Lord Jesus, there is responsibility that goes along with this honor. “Know ye not that … ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price.” (I Cor. 6:19,20) Our covenant to do the Father’s will, to sacrifice our own will, carries with it full responsibility for the use of all our talents in the Lord’s service. As laborers together with God (I Cor. 3:9), we are to preach the Word of the glad tidings of peace and salvation.

It is written, too, of our suffering. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”—Rom. 8:16-18

We have the same promises that God gave to his Son, Jesus—“I will never leave you nor forsake you!” (Deut. 31:7,8; Josh. 1:9) This promise is repeated over and over again! “This is the promise he has promised us, even eternal life.” (I John 2:25) As we are conformed more and more closely to the image of God’s dear Son, we will rejoice to say with him, “Lo, I come. In the volume of the Book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: Yea thy law is written within my heart!”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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